The decision to breastfeed or bottle feed a newborn child is a very important one. There are many factors to consider for both the mother and the infant when making this decision. Education on the health benefits, cost effectiveness, and the physical and emotional demands placed on new mothers is crucial to make the proper life choice of how to feed an infant. This essay will give information on these issues that must be considered, to assist in the education and decision making process for new mothers.
Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding Infants Human babies are born completely dependent on their caregivers. New parents face many decisions on the daily care of their newborn child. Deciding to breastfeed or bottle feed the baby is one of the most important decisions that has to be made. Several factors play a role in each mother’s decision on how to feed their newborn child. Health benefits, cost effectiveness, and the emotional and physical demands mothers experience while breastfeeding are just some of the aspects involved in the decision to either breastfeed or bottle feed your child.
Every new mother should research the pros and cons of breast and bottle feeding, so they can make an informed decision on what will work best for not only their child, but themselves also. Health Benefits Colostrum, the breast milk first produced, contains a substance called immunoglobulin A (IgA) that provides a protective layer on the nasal, intestinal, and throat mucous membranes. This protective layer is formed by antibodies produced in the mother’s system, and passed on to baby in the breast milk. These antibodies attack invading pathogens to assist in keeping baby healthy.
The IgA antibodies that are present in the intestinal lining protect the child from forming allergies by providing this layer of protection. Without these antibodies, the wall of the intestine may develop inflammation; causing the intestinal wall to become leaky. When this occurs, undigested proteins can penetrate into the gut where an allergic reaction or other health problems may develop (How breastfeeding benefits you and your baby, 2013). Breast milk benefits the development of the neonate’s immune system, giving them a great start on life.
Global studies nd research have concluded breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for an infant and the mother. Babies who are breastfed have a decreased chance of contracting serious infections such as meningitis and respiratory illnesses. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences performed a study that showed breastfed children have a decreased rate of 20 percent in death occurring within the first year of life. Breastfeeding is recommended by the CDC, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for reducing the risk of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (How breastfeeding benefits you and your baby, 2013).
SIDS is devastating and unexplained. Any measure than can be taken to improve your child’s health should be utilized. The entire process of pregnancy, delivery, and the post-partum period can have both physical and emotional complications for the mother. “Formula-feeding mothers have the disadvantage of not reaping the benefits of cancer prevention and post-baby body regeneration” (Raven, 2011). Studies show breastfeeding mothers have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Nursing burns around 500 calories an hour and causes the uterus to contract, assisting the mother with weight loss (Raven, 2011).
Many hormones are secreted into the mother’s system while they breastfeed. Prolactin is a hormone that is released that causes the ovaries not to ovulate, acting as birth control. Oxytocin causes the milk to be produced in the mammary glands of the breast. This hormone can also have a calming effect for both mother and child. Cow milk or soy milk based formula is nutritionally healthy for the infant. But these formulas do not include the hormones and antibodies to help boost the baby’s immune system.
As a result, formula fed babies have a higher rate of allergies, inflammation, and diseases or disorders (How breastfeeding benefits you and your baby, 2013). This lack of hormone production not only affects the child, but can also have a serious effect the mother’s physical and mental health. Cost Effectiveness When making the decision to breast or bottle feed, the issue of cost effectiveness should be examined. Formula feeding mothers will have to purchase formula, bottles, and nipples. With the rising cost of groceries today, formula feeding a baby can become seriously costly, up to 2000 dollars that first year (Marmet, 2010).
If the breastfeeding mother plans on storing breast milk, she will need to purchase a breast pump, storage bags, breast pads, bottles, and nipples. The milk for the baby is produced by the mother and is a major cost advantage of breastfeeding. One financial disadvantage to breastfeeding is breast pumps can cost up to several hundred dollars. Emotional and Physical Demands on Mom When comparing breast and bottle feeding infants, breastfeeding requires a level of selflessness from the mother. Many lifestyle changes are required while the mother is nursing.
Breastfeeding mothers must maintain a healthy diet. The vitamins and nutrients the mother ingests are passed on to their baby. Certain foods can cause the child to experience heartburn, gas, and stomach aches. Also, drinking alcohol and smoking while breastfeeding can cause issues for the baby as well, and should be avoided. Breastfeeding can be very demanding for the mother. Since her breasts produce the milk, the mother is usually responsible for most of the feedings. Breast milk is more easily digested than formula, so more frequent feedings will be needed.
If feeding responsibilities are to be shared with other loved ones, the mother must make time to pump and properly store the breast milk. Physical discomforts are also a factor in breastfeeding. While nursing, the mother may experience dry and cracked nipples, which can be extremely painful. In some women engorgement, the extreme fullness of the milk ducts in the breasts can occur. When the breasts become engorged they are very sensitive, hard, heavy, swollen, painful, and they can also leak. When this occurs, it becomes more difficult for the baby to feed. Emotionally, breastfeeding has both pros and cons for the mother.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers are at a lowered risk to develop PPD, Post-Partum Depression. According to the National Institutes of Health, women who do not breastfeed or stop breastfeeding early were at a higher risk for PPD (Raven, 2011). Another issue for nursing mothers is public feedings. For many women, public feeding can be a major deterrent. Utilizing a nursing shaw or breastfeeding tops can reduce the likelihood for embarrassment from an exposed breast (Marmet, 2010). Also, keeping freshly pumped breast milk to utilize with bottle usage for public feedings may also help.
Formula feeding requires much more time and preparation than breastfeeding. Although you can measure and track the amount of food intake the baby is getting, there is much preparation that goes into each bottle that is made. Each component of the bottle must be sterilized to help prevent infection and keep baby healthy. Every bottle that is made has to be properly measured to ensure the baby’s nutritional needs are being met. One of the major benefits of formula feeding is the shared responsibility of feeding time. Conclusion It is our great blessing to love, nurture, and witness the incredible process of life.
Becoming a new parent is an incredible experience and a great responsibility. Education is crucial to understand, the basic process, in which children develop. Neonate physical, nutritional, and emotional development form the foundation for the people we become. Making the decision to breast or bottle feed an infant is a very personal one. There are many factors that must be weighed that can affect both mother and child. Evaluating these factors and making an informed decision is the best thing new parents can do for themselves and their child.